Edafe Okporo, who will deliver the keynote address at the Idaho Conference on Refugees, shared some meaningful insights with the Boise Weekly in a Q&A published this week.
Edafe is the author of Asylum: A Memoir & Manifesto and founder of Refuge America, which helps LGBTQ people who are fleeing persecution. Edafe himself fled this same type of persecution in Nigeria before seeking asylum in New York in 2016.
"The U.S. has allowed me to rebuild my life from the scratch," Edafe told the Boise Weekly. "It would be a miss if the book was only about pain. It was mostly about the joy of finding community, and the welcoming messages of Americans who gave me their space, offered me hope and an optimistic end to a tragic beginning."
During his keynote address on March 1, Edafe will talk about what that journey has been like and the belonging he has helped create amid hardship.
"For me, America is a place of refuge for millions of people looking for an opportunity to dream, to build a life for themselves and future generations," he said.
"I have suffered harassment for being a gay person, arriving in America of my dreams — I was locked up in a detention center, and a few people spew(ed) racial slurs towards me, but for every one person who told me to go back to Africa, there are millions more who want me to stay in America.
"Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen that no one has an idea of what will happen tomorrow. And with the recent evacuation of Afghans from Kabul, we now see refugees across the globe. We can see that recurring theme. Tomorrow for anyone can be like that of the persons we are trying to protect today."
You can hear Edafe's presentation virtually. Click here to register by Feb. 23.
Find the full Q&A from Boise Weekly here.